County to finalize tax rate Monday

Howard County commissioners will look to put the finishing touches on their 2012-2013 fiscal plan Monday, as the court looks to adopt its tax rate for the coming year.The court — which approved its 2012-2013 budget during the Sept. 10 meeting — will consider adopting a tax rate of 33 cents per $100 valuation during the meeting.According to county records, the effective tax rate — the rate which would bring in the same levy as last year — is 30.9221 cents per $100 valuation. The rollback rate, which is comprised of the effective rate plus an 8 percent increase in the levy, has been calculated at 33.1460 cents per $100 valuation.County Auditor Jackie Olson said the proposed rate — which is slightly less than the rollback rate — will generate $753,000 more tax dollars for the county than last year’s levy, which was 43.6720 cents per $100 valuation.According to County Judge Mark Barr, the additional funding is necessary for the county to address its ongoing issue with roadway damages, which continue to grow exponentially due to the current boom in the oilfield.“We have to address this problem and, unfortunately, it looks like it will be the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for it,” Barr said. “Overall, the damage is estimated at approximately $22 million right now. What we’re hoping to do is be able to spend approximately $400,000 to $500,000 a year to try to make repairs. This isn’t something we’re going to be able to fix all at one time, obviously.”Local taxpayers may not be the only ones to foot the bill for county roads damaged by the increased truck traffic, as the court is expected to discuss the possible implementation of a road use agreement with the oil companies causing many of the road issues.“I don’t know that we will be able to take action on road use agreements during the Monday meeting,” Barr said. “However, we desperately need to get the ball rolling on the issue.”Commissioners have considered utilizing road use agreements — which would have the oilfield companies using the roadways paying for a percentage of the upkeep — during the past several months.According to Barr, he’s been unable to get any of the local oil companies to sit down with the commissioners court and discuss the matter, despite numerous attempts.“To my knowledge, none of them have come forward to discuss this with us,” he said. “However, we’re at a point where we can’t wait for them to come to the table any more. We have to move forward on the matter. We’re currently looking at using a similar agreement currently implemented in another Texas county as our template. We’ll just have to discuss it Monday and see where it goes.”The court is also expected to consider:• Inter-local agreement between Howard County and the Howard County Water Control and Improvement District.• Renewal of a contract between the county and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.Also during Monday’s meeting, commissioners are expected to meet with County Auditor Jackie Olson to discuss Invoices, purchase requests and proposed budget amendments. County Treasurer Teresa Thomas is expected to present personnel considerations.Commissioners will also meet with County Road and Bridge Administrator Brian Klinksiek to discuss pipeline crossings and road maintenance.The meeting will get under way at 10 a.m. in the commissioners courtroom, located on the third floor of the county courthouse. For more information, contact the county judge’s office at 432-264-2202.Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at